Foodies who spend three nights a week hunting for Chicago's best Chinese, French and Thai can kill three birds with one stone with dinner at Red Light. Boasting a giant sculpted red flame, it's impossible to miss the Randolph Street eatery, a Jerry Kleiner restaurant that's coolly anchored the block for nearly a decade. Its flickering heat continues inside with deep orange lighting, plush velvet curtains and richly textured walls. And that's to say nothing of the food.
Chef Jackie Shen's take on Pan-Asian fusion should please lovers of spice. The wrinkled green beans are an absolute must, simmered in soy caramel and roasted garlic, dripping with a molasses-like syrup so dark it could pass for chocolate. The Black Tie sesame shrimp come crusted head to tail in roasted seeds, bursting with sweet flavor at the flesh. Standout entrees, at $18-$30, include the whole catfish and the Peking duck. But don't miss the curries: jumbo prawns with coconut curry and beef red Thai curry, in the menu's words, will cause "intense sweating."
Drink up from the robust wine menu, which is complemented by a number of sakes and beers. And do order Jackie's Bag, an elegantly sculpted chocolate bag filled with Belgian white chocolate mousse and raspberry sauce that Shen crafted more than 20 years ago.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Emily Fiffer